Game Review: Uncharted 3
Release: November 1, 2011
Genre: Third Person Shooter
Developer: Naughty Dog
Available Platforms: PlayStation 3
ESRB Rating: Teen
Website: Uncharted 3.com
Read on Platform Nation and fellow gamers, this game deeply deserves your attention. I have played so many games in these past years that there are times I feel almost pacified by the experience, and I almost feel that I already know what to expect from a given title long before the game disc ever starts spinning in my console or PC. But in those rare and far between moments within a gamers life, you come across a title that truly surprises you and stands as a reminder for why you have dedicated so much of your time (and money) into this hobby. It makes your jaw hang open at the sight of it, your eyes stare unblinking, and your hands swell with the sheer joy of being so directly involved in the experience. A masterpiece. What the geniuses at Naughty Dog have created with their highly anticipated, PlayStation 3 exclusive: Uncharted 3, is precisely that. A bold claim, yet I am prepared to justify it.
In Uncharted 3 you once again take on the role of Nathan Drake, the wise cracking birth child of Indiana Jones and John McClain, as he embarks on another adventure in search of the secrets and treasures behind the voyages of his supposed ancestor, Sir Francis Drake. If you are familiar with the first two games, you should feel right at home in terms of the controls and overall play style. As before, you will be using blind fire and diving for cover in third person shoot outs, solving puzzles with the help of your travel journal (grail diary?), engaging in fist fights and performing stealth take downs, or climbing up ledges and temple walls to find your way and unlock paths bellow. Yet it all feels solidly perfected, as the game taking ques from some of the greatest third person titles of the past.
The melee system, which felt tacked on in the original game, now feels fluid and natural, and echoes the dynamic combat system seen in Batman Arkham City (or Asylum). Even outside of the brief, melee only portions of the game, you will find yourself using it frequently in gunfights as a way to take down anyone who gets a little too close for comfort. Climbing around feels great, and while I remember the first game reminded me of the hippity hop play style of Tomb Raider, climbing sections now feel more akin to the seamless aesthetics of Assassins Creed. Puzzles are as fun as ever, but they seemed a little less tedious this time around, and were satisfying to solve. Aiming is spot on as always, with a small white reticule appearing over your shoulder when you hold down L1 (default). You are still restricted to carrying only two weapons, with a ‘long gun’ to strapped to your back and a small side arm at your side, but grabbing up a dead enemy’s weapon the middle of a shoot out not only adds another tactical aspect to the game, it is also quick and easy.
Aside from the phenomenal ten to eleven hour campaign, Uncharted 3 also packs a serious punch with its multiplayer options. Competitive modes which include Team Deathmatch, a capture the flag type game called Plunder, Team Objective, Three Team Deathmatch, Free For All, and Hardcore, are all a blast to play. The maps offer a lot of variety, with a number of vertical options to support the game’s trade mark climbing system, which allows you to scale buildings or jump from roof top to roof top while firing and tossing grenades at your enemies. Matches are fast pace and highly competitive, offering plenty of challenges for ‘hardcore’ shooter fans to conqueror. Like most popular online shooters, Uncharted 3 also features a leveling system which unlocks an impressive amount of weapon load outs and customization options, plus character skins and outfits. But even if competitive play isn’t really your thing, there are also a fair amount of content to explore with the co-op options, which you can enjoy either online or in split screen.
The thing I loved most about this game was its pacing, along with its immersive and cinematic qualities. All of the refined gameplay elements I described above are all weaved into the game’s campaign with a master’s hand. There was never a moment when I felt bored or that things were becoming repetitive, and this primarily has to do with the game’s pacing. Just when you were growing tired of climbing and jumping around, there would be a puzzle to solve, or a gunfight to hop into. It all plays out like an engaging action movie, and it can be hard to put the controller down. Any critic or gamer could tell you that graphics aren’t everything, and that is true. But that doesn’t stop me from saying that Uncharted 3’s graphics, physics engines, and animations are simply incredible. It all looks so convincingly real that my only possible reaction is a smile; and I would easily say that they are the best console graphics I have seen (I am sorry Crysis 2). Environments are remarkably detailed and engaging, and the game possess an incredible amount of variety. As the campaign stretched on, I remember thinking: ‘this could have ended 2 hours ago and it still would have been one of the best campaigns I have ever played.’ But then it just kept on going…
My only complaints are really just nit picky details and an addictive want for more, in spite of having received so much, yet I will list them none the less. It could be said that the both the melee system and climbing sections are too easy, and some people might not enjoy some of the more cinematic sections of the game. Also, as just like in the previous games, there is still something about the animations that sometimes makes Drake look like the village drunk as he stumbles about through the campaign. As for the story, it’s nothing to write home about, but it kept me entertained and I enjoyed it. And finally, for those of you who think large gameplay changes are required for a game sequel to be justified, you might find yourself thinking that it is the same old game (but you would be wrong). Is the fact that this game had to come to an end a complaint?
In conclusion, this game blew me away. Uncharted 3 will make you proud to own a PlayStation 3, and will surely leave a lasting impression on anyone who plays it in its entirety. In fact, I would be willing to argue that you would be justified in buying a PS3 simply for the sake of playing this game. The campaign is lengthy, the multiplayer is addictive, and everything just feels spot on and refined to the tiniest detail. Even if you have never played an Uncharted game (which you should), you really can’t stand to miss this one. This will be the first perfect 10 that I have handed out here at P*N, but enjoy it Naughty Dog, you deserve every single point. Pick this game up!
+ Awesome campaign and multiplayer
+ Impressive visuals and physics
+ Great pacing, addictive gameplay
+ Good replay value
– Not much has changed
Final Score: 10/10